December 12, 2006

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Hong Kong had an earthquake, albeit a minor one, on the weekend. The mini-election to elect a small group to elect a Chief Executive produced something of a shock, which is quite shocking as the system is designed to avoid such things. In Hong Kong's extremely unique democracy, various interest groups get to elect members of an 800 person election committee who then decide on who will be CE. To make it appear like it's a geniune race, a candidate needs 100 nominations from that 800 to run. Remarkably the pro-democrat camp realised they needed to rally around a single candidate to have a chance, which they did. More remarkably the pro-democrats then managed to get around 130 of themselves onto the election committee.

The result is not in doubt - The Don will win. But the system is showing that even supposedly "loyal" sectors are starting to get fed up. The accountants and academics largely voted for pro-democrats, at the same time delivering a substantial kick in the pants to their "establishments". Some grandees in the legal sector also discovered that being the right person doesn't entitle you to automatic election victory. It's not quite a grass-roots victory, but clearly even the professional classes are starting to assert their desire for pro-democrats, which is kind of amazing.

Perhaps not co-incidentally, one-time Chief Executive aspirant Lo Tak-shing passed away. One of his lasting contributions to HK was coming up with the incredible dual-voting structure in Legco, so that even if a majority vote a certain way, the institutionalised vested interests that are the "functional constituencies" have a veto over the democratically elected other half of the chamber. Still, it takes a kind of genius to have two voting chambers within one council.

posted by Simon on 12.12.06 at 09:40 AM in the Hong Kong democracy/politics category.


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